Attackers in Niger detonated two car bombs at dawn on Thursday, one in the city of Agadez where a military barracks was targeted and one in Arlit where a French company operates a uranium mine, killing a total of 26 people and injuring 30
Residents in the two towns said that both attacks occurred at around 5-30 a.m., indicating a level of coordination among the attackers.
Alhousseiny Moussa, a resident of Agadez, was already awake and just steps away from his local mosque for the first prayer of the day, when he heard the boom coming from the city’s military camp. “I heard the explosion and immediately after I heard a volley of gunfire. The area where it happened was inside the military camp and it’s now been roped off so we cannot go in,” he said.
At 5-30 a.m., an all-terrain Toyota sports-utility vehicle penetrated the SOMAIR mine, where Areva is extracting uranium in Arlit, located 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) to the north of the capital, Niamey, according to residents. The car exploded not far from the machinery used at the mine.
“We saw a car enter the factory and immediately it exploded,” said Agoumou Idi, a worker inside the factory who was reached by telephone. “The terrorists, probably from MUJAO, took advantage of the fact that the entrance gate was open in order to let in a truck carrying the next shift of workers. They used that opening to enter the heart of our factory and explode their vehicle.”
No group immediately claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack, but because Niger shares a border with the troubled nation of Mali, whose north was occupied for most of last year by fighters loyal to al-Qaida, residents and government officials assume the attackers are Islamic extremists, possibly from the Movement of Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, or MUJAO, which has led repeated suicide attacks inside Mali.